Schoolgirls dressed in neat blue uniforms, with their hair pulled back into tight braids, chatter on their way to school. Ripe mangoes squashed on the road, too many to eat, ferment in the heat. Cinnamon and nutmeg waft up from the market and the frying of fish fills the Friday night air. A blast of steel pan music assails you from a tourist hotel and parrots call from deep in the emerald rainforest. From the green of the breadfruit to the blue of the sea via a hand of yellow bananas and a scarlet ginger lily, the colours of St Lucia provide a sumptuous feast for all the senses.
St Lucia (pronounced 'Loosha') has a rich cultural heritage from the alternating French and British colonial powers and the African slaves brought in to work their plantations. This particular Caribbean pot of races and cultures has produced a language known as Kwéyòl, spoken by most St Lucians. On the island you will find French architecture, French place-names, Creole cuisine and Roman Catholicism, while the official language is English, cars drive on the left and cricket is the most popular sport.
While you may want to laze on the beach or lie in a hammock and gaze on the majesty of the Pitons, there is much in St Lucia to tempt you away from soporific delights. The turquoise sea offers exciting sailing, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, whale watching or just some gentle snorkelling. Athletic types can try their hand at windsurfing or even kiteboarding. On land, you can test your legs and lungs by biking or hiking up mountains, along river beds and through forests - the interior is outstandingly beautiful and forest reserves protect watersheds as well as the St Lucian parrot and other wildlife.
Manicured greens can be found on the golf course, the cricket pitch or the tennis court. You may then need a massage but that too is available at a spa. Sightseeing opportunities include the capital, Castries, colonial fortifications and plantation tours. To round off your day you can enjoy a high standard of cooking in the restaurants, rums in the bars, street parties for local seafood, fish fries and ‘jump-ups’ and the beat of soca, zouk or reggae late into the night in the clubs and discos of Rodney Bay.